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A guidebook for families anticipating the death of a parent

The death of a parent in childhood represents a void in a child’s life that can lead to both acute and prolonged challenges. Children who participate in healthy grieving are able to address the reality of the loss while also engaging in everyday living and reestablishing a new “normal.” Failure to engage in healthy grieving can result in depression, anxiety, difficulties with every day functioning, and persistent yearning and searching for the deceased parent.

The goals of the Love Legacy Guidebook are threefold: to facilitate healthy grieving through addressing the challenges that are inevitable when a parent dies, guiding the family in making adjustments, and continuing connections both before and after the death. Not all children are allotted the opportunity to partake in the process of anticipatory grief. Those that are, have the benefit of processing emotions, spending extra time with the parent, and saying goodbye. This guidebook aims to facilitate healthy grieving by outlining tasks which help the family identify people to complete household tasks, discuss and assign ways to memorialize the deceased person on special occasions, and gather and document pictures and stories.

Additionally, this guidebook provides the family a unique opportunity to engage in a process with the dying parent that will allow the parent to offer input by adding biographical information, personalized stories, and individualized letters to the children. After the parent has died, the family has a place to return in order to remember the parent.

Love Legacy Guidebook: Services
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